28. Rich kids pretending to be poor

As I mentioned a couple posts ago (see 27. The Light Skin Paradox), human beings long for what they don’t have. Undiscovered people want to become famous. Famous people want privacy. Poor people want to be rich. Rich people want to, well, blend in.

Sure, there are wealthy people who are more than happy to floss on the regular, but backpacking is the antithesis of flossing. Makes sense because just like hot women, rich people don’t usually backpack anyway — they stay in 5-star accomodations, not 16-bunk dorm rooms.

A small minority of affluent travelers, however, are willing to slum it on the backpacking scene. These people are invariably young, adventurous types from good families, with good educations. Bursting with idealism and a desire to “see the world,” these rich kids quickly adopt the typical backpacker affections for leftist politics, environmentalism, spontanaeity and frugality.

Obviously, it’s the frugality part that is unconvincing. I’d compare it to how rich kids shop at thrift stores to find grungy retro duds, while poor people are there out of necessity. Backpacking is about survival, about scraping by on nickels and dimes, eating sparingly and sleeping on trains to avoid paying for a night’s stay in a hostel. Most backpackers would rather stay in nice hotels, but they can’t afford to, so they go backpacking and in doing so, learn to appreciate the minimalist charms of traveling on the cheap. Indeed, rich kids learn to appreciate them too (maybe mom and dad only give them cash in certain increments, I don’t know), but they occasionally slip up.

Common slip-ups include:

  • Getting drunk and buying the entire bar a round of drinks.
  • Staying in a hotel after scouring the city for two whole hours and discovering all the hostels are full. Meanwhile, your friends opt to sleep in the train station, but you insist they should stay with you. But they get denied in the lobby as the hotel is hip to your game and they end up sleeping in the train station after all.
  • Missing your flight, but miraculously arriving at your destination on the next possible one.
  • Buying lavish souvenirs and shipping them home immediately.
  • Consistenly buying expensive meals and playing it down as taking advantage of a favorable currency exchange rate.
  • Calling home all the time, on mom and dad’s calling card.
  • Enduring what normally would be a trip-ending calamity and not having to go home at all.
  • Telling everybody back home you’re going to said country to work for six months to a year and spending six months to a year traveling and not working at all.

Why have I paid such close attention to the mundane tendencies of rich-kid backpackers? I’m just jealous… and poor. And poor people want to be rich.

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14 Responses to “28. Rich kids pretending to be poor”

  1. Clint says:

    Good post man! I know this genus of backpacker species.

  2. Maya says:

    Ooh man, haven’t met anybody buying a round for really long time… seriously, u can’t just diss these people, what if they read it and stop doing so for good??

    anyway, your female backpacker comments make me really uncomfortable, being a female backpacker (travelling solo) and all. first, i have to say, there are really chicks who still manage to shave and moisturize on the way. it makes the bag bit bigger but it’s manageable. second, who cares about alpha females, what scares me much more are those chicks… sort of intellectual, specky, vegetarian, tea drinking, not using the f-word, wearing tie-dye stuff and organic hemp bags, etc. i’m sure they are all really nice girls… i’m consider myself a feminist (yeah, being feminist doesn’t actually mean one has to become a total dude) but somehow they always make me think they should just buy some really slutty underwear instead of the terry pratchett books!!!!!!

    …i know, bit too wordy, but i feel so much better!

    yeah, and the update on aussie guys… it’s ray-ban remasters (or similar) ATM.

  3. Lauren says:

    Normally I don’t really care about matters like this…I realize that people are ‘wrong’ on the internet all the time. Congratulations, your post caught my attention. While daydreaming about where I’d like to travel if I could one day, I ran into your ominously titled blog. Let me just say that inevitably, one day you’ll quit being such a cynic, look back on this moment, and blush. Nothing is more idealistic than angry people looking for a way to make themselves seem above others. Being in the exclusive club of authenticity, as it seems you consider yourself to be a member of it, does little more than make you look like you have nothing better to do than belittle other people. Everyone has different reasons for backpacking, and that said, everyone has a different background. If you have learned anything in your travels it should be to appreciate these differences and try and see life from someone elses point of view. You make fun of these rich kids who ‘pretend to be poor’, when they obviously have way more generosity and spirit than you ever will. No one goes backpacking out of necessity, you jerk, people do it for adventure…you say ” Most backpackers would rather stay in nice hotels, but they can’t afford to, so they go backpacking”–It’s not like poor people go backpacking because it’s the only way of life available to them, if people wanted luxury they wouldn’t go backpacking to begin with. Don’t be so narrow minded,AND try not to act so self-righteous . Most people, like myself, who don’t have money, have to get jobs. Onhe small request: Try turning that high powered lens on yourself, asshole.

  4. a says:

    I always assumed that all backpackers were rich. The more you know.

  5. Skye im Ulysses says:

    Yeh, pure hater, im not rich at all, far from it.
    i travel and do odd jobs just to eat. ive ran into wealthy people backpacking, thanks to them, i got to drink that free round of beer, thanks to them, we got on that flight. face it lad. anyone can backpack,
    i understand youre vent, but you cant defeat them, shoping at the good will is called being humble, youre ignorance seems to be the real issue here.
    good luck to you in life

  6. jest says:

    watch “into the wild”
    sometimes rich kids need to excape this sick society,
    and the poor, we need to find joy in what god has givven us.
    i have had most fun pennieless

  7. V says:

    I’m a rich kid pretending to be poor.

    But I never buy lavish souvenirs or drinks for everyone in the bar. Being rich doesn’t mean wasting money.
    The people you have described are just those pretending to be rich.

  8. Lindsay says:

    I think the author of this blog is just venting. You all shouldn’t get so upset. Everyone thinks these things, he just writes it. Plus if you read all of his posts you can see that he vents about everything. He even admits he is just jealous that they are rich and he isn’t. I think part of the fun in adventuring around the globe would be to deal with situations that arise and not having mommy and daddy’s money to get you out of it. And I am sure that it annoys people that are not that well off. But, to each his own. You shouldn’t let what someone else does effect how you live. For each rich kid, there are probably a handful of poor ones to commiserate with. Like Jest said, maybe rich kids just want to pretend to be poor, but if they really want to experience what it is to live by the seat of your pants and struggle, using money to get out of a bad situation defeats the purpose. If you really wanna be humble and poor then give your money away. Pretending is kinda silly.

  9. Vica says:

    yeah, i’m a rich kid pretending to be poor. cos i’m sick & tired of people saying “you must be rich” 1000x a day.

  10. Paul says:

    You can be have money but still be frugal about it. After all, wealth is a function of how much you make and how much you spend. I’m willing to bet that a lot of really rich people are quite frugal (hear of Warren Buffet?)

    So just because they are wealthy and choose to travel cheaply isn’t a ding against them. And I don’t think they are “pretending” to be poor.

    I’ve traveled on my trips with plenty of my earned money in the bank but nonetheless I’ve been very frugal on where I stay, what I eat and what I do.

  11. Q says:

    I dont think rich kids are pretending to be poor. They are trying in their own level to try out a new adventure; obviously the majority of them can never really endure it fully. But whatever, they do, they do get a certain sense of what it feels like. As for buying, people rounds at the bar, i think its probably appreciated by the company of backpackers, or else he would not do it. I think its a very noble gesture, and it saves fellow backpackers a couple of bucks.

    anyway each to his own; some people are rich, some people are poor. Money does not guarantee happiness; poverty not necessarily going to make u unhappy.

    Let everyone live and let live.

  12. Anonymous Jones says:

    Wow, you really are a moron. Just take a look at your quote.

    “Backpacking is about survival, about scraping by on nickels and dimes, eating sparingly and sleeping on trains to avoid paying for a night’s stay in a hostel.”

    Last time I checked, backpacking was about traveling and exploring the world! My butt it’s about survival. If you’re struggling to survive, you wouldn’t be backpacking, and instead be focusing on finding some sort of job.

    People travel the world to see great sights and to experience personal growth. Traveling independently and staying at hostels is one way to do that. How else to you expect a “rich kid” to meet people if they stay in some lavish hotel suite by themselves? Backpacking is all about proving that you can make a life of your own, by meeting new people and traveling to new places on your own. How much money you have really has nothing to do with this experience.

  13. Mark says:

    I was going to give my thoughts on this horrendous and terribly wrong post but Lauren summed up my feelings exactly. “Most backpackers would rather stay in nice hotels, but they can’t afford to, so they go backpacking…” This is the epitome of internet ignorance; probably ranks as one of the most asinine statements I have ever read, no joke. Peace.

  14. Average Hypocrite says:

    There’s something special about comments of haters hating on posts of haters. I think the author realizes he’s being a hater, as Lindsay says and that’s what makes the blog fun and not boring. Try not to be so self-righteous people.

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